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Cards mulling how many pitchers to carry

Rosenthal's role key to decision as team's first cuts loom
Special to MLB.com

JUPITER, Fla. -- Some questions have been answered but many more remain as Spring Training rolls on for a Cardinals team facing its first cuts on Monday.

Cardinals GM John Mozeliak talked about the team and its progress to this point in the Grapefruit League season. Ultimately, he envisions to Cards break camp with a maximum of 12 pitchers, but that number could reach only 11.

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JUPITER, Fla. -- Some questions have been answered but many more remain as Spring Training rolls on for a Cardinals team facing its first cuts on Monday.

Cardinals GM John Mozeliak talked about the team and its progress to this point in the Grapefruit League season. Ultimately, he envisions to Cards break camp with a maximum of 12 pitchers, but that number could reach only 11.

View Full Game Coverage

"A lot of it comes down to roster flexibility; players with or without options, how we fit that puzzle piece together," Mozeliak said. "But I would imagine if things ended today it probably would be 12. I haven't exactly boiled the roster down to exactly know who's 11, 12, 13."

Many questions must be answered before that decision is made. One of them involves right-hander Trevor Rosenthal and whether or not there's enough time this spring to get the innings necessary for him to contribute as a starter or perhaps even a multiple-inning reliever.

"It's very important that sometime this week he gets into a game and we can get that pitch count up," Mozeliak said. "Imagining him to get the pitch count up to where he needs to be as a starter, I think could be a challenge."

However, Mozeliak added that Rosenthal as a multi-inning reliever is still very much a possibility.

"Who ultimately wears that hat, I think the interesting thing is there could be a couple that could go multiple innings," Mozeliak said. "So that's favorable and really something that when you think about coming into a camp, you're trying to create that depth, as I look at it right now I think we've accomplished that.

"There's a lot of guys that could be on that list. Clearly not all of them will assume that role, but I think we have that flexibility."

As far as position players go, Mozeliak said that he feels the Cardinals have accomplished what they set out to do coming into Spring Training.

"When you think about how we're trying to build the club, one of the factors that I thought was very important was how we thought about defense, specifically how we defended ground balls," he said. "The overarching theme was athleticism and defense.

"Signing Dexter Fowler, moving Randal Grichuk over and then having Stephen Piscotty in the outfield, we felt like we accomplished that."

Infield was a little different, Mozeliak said.

"That became more of an internal solution in having somebody that we believe, Kolten Wong, a very good defensive player be given that opportunity. That's at second. Obviously Aledmys Diaz got off to a slow start defensively, but then I think by the end of the year, prior to him getting hurt, was much more consistent. You certainly could argue that Kolten is key to that infield."

And then there's still a decision to make as far as what third base will look like come Opening Day.

"I think both Jedd Gyorko and Jhonny Peralta have done a very nice job," Mozeliak said. "I think they're a little bit different in that Peralta seems more comfortable defensively, and I think you look at right now how Jedd is swinging the bat, they both sort of bring a different piece or element to the club.

"Either way, they're both positive right now, and that's a good thing to have."

Mozeliak also discussed Matt Carpenter's back injury and whether or not he would have enough at-bats to be ready for the season.

"Most of what we're doing is just being cautious," he said. "There's no reason to try to push this. Obviously if you end up having a lower back or oblique it becomes more serious, we all know that leads to much lower extent out.

"So for us right now, worrying about a Grapefruit League game is not what's driving our decision. From a timing standpoint he's still tracking in the cage. He's just not free to swing."

Worth Noting: Still battling flu-like symptoms, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny missed his second consecutive game. Although he was at the ballpark early Sunday, he did not remain. The Cardinals reported that doctors did feel that he could be contagious.

Glenn Sattell is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Cardinals on Sunday.

St. Louis Cardinals, Trevor Rosenthal